Övertorneå greeted us with a sunny Wednesday-morning on June 12th, just in time for our last field trip on the Swedish side. We filled up a bus and a car with 22 curious participants, to spend the day travelling around Haparanda and Övertorneå municipalities. The participants were a mix of established company leaders, future entrepreneurs, village representatives and other strategic stakeholders – all with a special interest when it comes to meal tourism, culinary travel and foodie tours.
We started by crossing the municipality-border over to Haparanda and made our first stop at Hulkoffgården, where the beautifully decorated tables were set with coffee and sandwiches for us. Hulkoffgården is a high-end restaurant with focus on ecological and local products, combined with a small boutique, a lodge and farm with meat breeding. Kurt & Pia Hulkoff told us the story behind the company and what’s coming. This summer their daughter Jenny will take over the business and also develop new activities involving horses. To read more about Hulkoffgården, visit their webpage www.hulkoff.se.
Next stop came only a few minutes south, at Pesulas Lantbruk & Elmers Gårdsbutik in Övre Kukkola. The farmers Pella & Åsa Pesula greeted us out in the yard and took us for a tour around the facilities. We both had a chance to see the state of the art cowshed for dairy production, the factory were they produce their own mustard and turnip rape-oil as well as their gallery – Konsthalli Navetta. Pesula Latbruk is the northern most producer of both the oil and mustard, which gets its special taste from the hours of midnight sun. In the farm shop they sell both their own products, together with other locally produced goods. You’ll find them on www.pesulalantbruk.se.
We continued our journey south, and just a few minutes later we reached the rapids of Kukkolaforsen and the hotel, restaurant and conference facilities of Kukkolaforsen Turist & Konferens. Johanna Spolander, one of the second generation-owners, welcomed us to the restaurant. She told us the story behind the locally rooted menu and showed us her mother’s cookbook – a collection of recipes from the river valley dating several generations back. We had a chance to enjoy their delicious lunch buffet and take a quick stroll around the premises, where there’s among other things a brand-new hotel, a cultural village and a sauna museum. Read more the place at www.kukkolaforsen.se.
After lunch we headed over to the small village Mattila, for a stop at Taavolagården to meet the owners Tarja and P-O Kinnunen. In an old homestead which dates back into the early 1800s they run a small café, an interior décor-shop and a flea market. Their focus have been to restore and preserve both buildings and pastries according to the traditions of Tornedalen. That, along with their device to keep it simple, seems to be a real crowd pleaser. In only a few years time they’ve increased the number of annual visitors from around 5000 to 50 000! And now they’re struggeling on how to grow further without compromising with the traditional buildings and ways of baking. Here you can find out more about them www.butik.taavolagarden.com.
After a little bit of shopping we headed back north towards Övertorneå and Restaurang Utblick, located high up on Luppioberget. The owner Pia Huuva and her Smiling Utblick Crew greeted us to the spectacular view over the river valley. Except for the restaurant where classic tastes from Tornedalen are served with a twist, they recently developed a product combining the stories and history of the place together with food. During a three-hour foodie tour out on the mountain, the guests will experience both storytelling, tastes, smells, textures and nature. We all got a small taste-box to try out the concept. If you wish to know more you’ll find all info on www.utblicktornedalen.se and www.smakautblick.se.
A huge thanks to all our hosts for inspiring us, feeding us and showing us a great time! And thank you to all the participants, who contributed with knowledge, curiosity and lots of enthusiasm!